Inside a cold, blackened, repurposed 19th-century assembly room are three videos. They are presented on an assortment of large suspended screen displays, with an almighty sound system. One by one the videos KHOL (2018), FELT TIP (2018) and THE TEACHERS (2019) play in succession. What emerges is a trio of arresting social observations that dart from historical facts to strange, strange science-fiction. I wasn’t prepared for the second video of the sequence, FELT TIP, a 10-minute epic that for weeks now has baffled and consumed me. Price weaves us into the patterns of 1970s and 80s neckties and exposes hidden symbols of privilege in the motifs of the ties. In Price’s world, the weaved symbols start to resemble circuit boards, which awakens a cyberfeminist operating system that, through the neckties, reclaims a history they were excluded from.
Price says that FELT TIP is key to understanding the other two videos, KHOL and THE TEACHERS, where the stories are told by a mysterious clatter of typed words and mouse clicks. Crucially, in FELT TIP we are introduced to the narrators more intimately. Their identities are revealed through a chorus of computerised, female, American voices. Price unlocks them from their electronic underworld. She mixes the voices with a layered production of gothic, industrial, electro-pop music as if forged in a metal workshop. The narrator’s voices and music are powerfully seductive, reminiscent of a 1980’s S&M nightclub. Urgent and coolly sinister, the rise and fall of the vocoder chorus feel like a mob on the sidelines – grasping their feminist revolution and taking what is rightfully theirs.
Elizabeth Price: SLOW DANS (installation display) KOHL, 2018, FELT TIP, 2018 and THE TEACHERS, 2019 presented by ArtAngel, London, 2020
Review by Sophie Giblin, December 2020